As much as everyone recognizes the role that the customs services play in mobilizing revenue in Mali, so few people have the courage to recognize that these services are also hot spots of corruption. Indeed, repeated scandals have often shaken the Malian Customs, to the point that we readily forget the customs officers who indulge on a daily basis in this practice now past to be the real plague of our society.
Only a few months ago, unscrupulous customs officials were unmasked in the Kayes region for their involvement in a case of false customs clearance in complicity with freight forwarders. If all the agents involved in this affair had been put in prison, it remains to be seen if they are still there, the prison with us here being intended only for the weak, defenseless people! The amount of this false customs clearance was estimated at the time at several hundred million CFA francs.
The life of the customs officer is so rosy under our skies that all young people in a hurry want to be customs officers, so much the rapid and consequent enrichment of certain customs officers and executives makes us dream!
Some customs officers are slapping hundreds of millions on the back of the State through false declarations, customs clearance of containers without the usual checks. False declarations on the value which make the State lose approximately 5 billion FCFA per year, according to sources well introduced to the Malian Customs services.
The main manifestations of corruption in the customs services range from complicity at the highest level to racketeering on the main roads by agents of the mobile brigades, including fraudulent practices in the application of texts relating to declarations, transits and exemptions. There is also influence peddling from high political circles and the customs administration.
According to the testimonies of certain customs officers, many interference by politicians in customs clearance operations relates to the imports of construction materials, luxury consumer products, machinery and other consumables for “their nominee companies”.
False declarations are the most common occurrence in almost all customs offices. They concern both the quantities of goods and the cash; that is, goods are declared which are not those actually imported. To achieve this, the freight forwarder negotiates with the office manager. As can be seen, corrupt practices in customs services come in many forms and facets.
“It is indecent and shameful that customs officers and executives, who are barely starting a career, can lead a sumptuous lifestyle, ride in a coach and buy high standing residences without being accountable”, reacted some officials. from the Malian administration at a local colleague, who goes further by reviewing the scandal of special funds which, between 2008 and 2009, dug a hole of 13.51 billion FCFA at the level of the Petroleum Products Bureau, and which, to this day still would not be clarified.
“The General Directorate of Malian Customs? One of the most corrupt circles that Malians know. It is not about the simple customs officer who passes someone off as soap or a pack of cigarettes. Rather, they are the chief gabelous who brew billions with the benevolence of the state. These are false declarations, disappearances of checks, containers and many other packages that disappear in the customs services of Mali without leaving a trace ”, further notes the colleague this testimony of a user who sums up, according to him, all the negative image that the General Directorate of Malian Customs can convey.
And the colleague is indignant in these terms: “everywhere, it is the same observation: motus and sewn-up, and no one to denounce this corruption in spades and this bad governance. We remain unmoved in the face of clan management of Customs officials, but especially in the face of this ambient mismanagement which mortgages the future of Malians. And everywhere, it is the same deafening silence ”.
Corruption in customs administrations even worries the World Customs Organization (WCO) which, in 2014, presented its “Risk mapping and risk analysis for better governance”. According to the WCO, civil servants are at the heart of corruption risks, and those of the customs administration especially because of their permanent contact with money, goods and operators. Customs corruption generates, according to the World Customs Organization, multiple economic impacts (loss of revenue), social (loss of citizens’ trust), environmental (waste of resources), and security (entry of dangerous, toxic or non-compliant).
Worse, the WCO indicates that corruption opens the door to 4 major types of risk: Security risks: terrorism, organized crime, threats to national security; Financial risks: revenue leakage, theft of customs funds, incorrect public procurement; Business risks: unauthorized access, disclosure or manipulation of information, criminal infiltration, bribes and gifts, monopoly power and nepotism; Operational risks: lack of public confidence, delay in customs processing, ignorance of procedures and laws.
So many reasons which must lead the highest to indicate corruption within the Malian customs administration!
Source: Bamako Express